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Creative Support During the Coronavirus

Medium Writers Newsletter: Writing tips, spotlights, and updates

Illustration: Kawandeep Virdee

How do you still find motivation to write and work on your craft, when it seems like everything loses meaning during the current world crisis? This question came up when we asked Medium writers to submit questions in advance of our writing panel. It resonates. It can feel like a momentous time to create. To pick up projects on the back burner. There’s an urge to be productive, but also the lack of energy and motivation. It’s important to acknowledge that this challenge we’re in weighs heavy. We’re in an incredibly difficult time, and we’re all adjusting our lives. Rainesford Stauffer writes, “In times of uncertainty, there’s productivity in pausing — in setting work aside to check in with your friends, your family, yourself. In tending to your feelings instead of your output. In remembering that you’re human, and that being human still matters.”

How do we support our creative practice, let alone our general well-being right now? Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen an outpouring of advice to navigate the uncertainty during this time. Markham Heid writes about cognitive reframing and how it “can prevent negative thoughts and emotions from snowballing to a point where they become overwhelming or destabilizing.” Kathleen Smith shares ways to handle anxiety. Melody Warnick describes a user manual to improve communication while sharing a living space.

It can be our writing itself that becomes a foundation for support now. Be it journaling, or writing about your own experience. “The act of creation brings joy, a sense of pride, and helps you forget about the ills of the world, at least for a little while,” writes Barry Davret. “In times of calm or panic, it may just be the most productive thing you can do.”

Writing in a time of crisis

To help support your writing practice, we held a Medium Writers Q&A hosted by myself in conversation with Kate Green Tripp, Megan Morrone, and Michelle Woo, the platform editors of Elemental, OneZero, and Forge. Before the panel, we invited Medium writers to submit questions. You can watch a recording of the event here.

https://medium.com/media/da42bfc1a86cb9b43dbcf732d17c99d3/href

You’ll find answers to questions including: Is it worth writing about non-Covid related pieces right now? What are you looking for in a story? What catches your eye?

After you watch, we’d love to know more about what resonated, and what you found valuable. Please share your response here. Some of you have already shared your experience, which is helpful as we plan more of these in the future.

Coronavirus content on Medium

Siobhan O'Connor, VP of Editorial at Medium, shared recent updates regarding coronavirus content on Medium. “We don’t take for granted the role Medium plays in the sharing of information and ideas, and we are improving our systems all the time,” O’Connor writes. “Consider this a snapshot of our continuous commitment to that.”

Check out the new Medium Coronavirus Blog, and subscribe to the newsletter. The Covid-19 Content Policy clarifies the platform rules around stories about the coronavirus. You’ll also notice a new banner on coronavirus-related stories. Articles in the coronavirus blog or the new coronavirus topic are free to read, that is, they do not count toward readers’ allotment of monthly free stories. They are still eligible to earn on member engagement for writers, if applicable.

A place to share your experience

Over the last few weeks, it’s been powerful reading stories of experiences as we go through this incredibly challenging time. It feels like a deeply necessary place of connection. We invite you to share yours — the mundane, the difficult, the unusual, and the joyful. As the editors in the Writing in a Time of Crisis panel advised, you can start with the question: What are the Covid-related conversations you’re having with friends? These can be the seeds of a compelling story. When we can share our story and find others who relate, that in itself is a nurturing moment. You can tag your stories #covid-diary and also link them in the responses in this post.

On this subject, I want to spotlight a publication on the platform: Pandemic Diaries. From the editor Debbie Galant: “Pandemic Diaries is an attempt to capture the moment — the state of disbelief — that Covid-19 has created.” There is more information on submitting to the publication here.

Story spotlights on the platform

Medium editors are on the lookout for great stories published on the platform and work with the authors to edit and produce the stories. Just like last month, we’ll spotlight a few stories that Medium editors found and brought into their publications. What makes a story resonate? There’s a variety of reasons — read more to learn what the platform editors found compelling about these stories in particular.

Social Distancing Has Put My Bond With My Toddler First” by Harold Hughes

Come for the adorable photo, stay for the story. Founder Harold Hughes has decided to scrap all of the productivity schedules swarming social media, and spend some time focusing on his son. Work-life balance never has to be perfect, and his story shows us how to make the most of the bonding time unexpectedly available to us with our loved ones if we can. — Jada Gomez, Senior Platform Editor, LEVEL.

One Morning as a Nurse on a Covid-19 Unit” by Juliette Roanoke

This is an incredibly transporting story at a time when so many of us are admiring and appreciating health care workers, but also can’t necessarily imagine what daily shift work in the hospital feels like right now. The story is heartbreaking and raw. I especially appreciate how Juliette is not afraid to expose what is messy about caring for others while trying your best to care for yourself. — Kate Green Tripp, senior platform editor at Elemental.

I Work in a Nursing Home on Lockdown. There Is So Much Loneliness Here.” by Lauren Martinchek

I appreciate and admire Lauren’s empathy toward the nursing home residents that she works with, while also allowing herself to be vulnerable with her own struggles. I think we’re all coping with our new reality in different ways. And with this story, Lauren offers a unique and personal perspective on a topic we’ve been hearing a lot about in the news. — Amanda Sakuma, platform editor at GEN.

Life as a Coronavirus Patient” by Chase C. Maggiano

In this honest and, frankly, frustrating account of one writer’s presumptive positive Covid-19 case, Chase Maggiano explains why our health care system wasn’t made for this crisis. From inside a double-sealed biocontainment room in a Florida hospital, Chase chronicles every step of his Covid-19 journey. Thankfully, Chase is back home and recovering now. As of a few weeks ago, he was still waiting for his test results. — Harris Sockel, deputy editor at Human Parts.

Stumbling upon stories that surprise us

The latest Reading Roulette and Medium Rare highlight stories our editors have found from across the platform. If you know a piece that should be featured in either, drop it in the responses there.

The Draft: You don’t have to write about the virus

The Draft is a biweekly column in Human Parts where former MFA director Eileen Pollack answers your questions about writing. You can submit your questions on creative writing here.

In “You Don’t Have to Write About the Virus,” a writer shares the feeling they have that they should write about the pandemic, and that their other writing doesn’t feel appropriate right now. But what can be contributed that hasn’t already been said? “Of course you feel you should be writing about the pandemic,” Pollack responds, “We are living through a historic event, and you are a witness to the drastic ways our world has changed.” She encourages writers to ask “Who isn’t being heard from?” and “What isn’t being said?” Making art is still crucial and relevant. She offers a few examples of great works made responding to historical crises.

Humor in a time of crisis

“Does humor have a place when writing in a time of crisis?” This question came up during the Q&A earlier this month. You can see a few responses at about the 37-minute mark of the discussion. Kate Green Tripp shares “We need sunshine, we need light, we need reminders, we need love, we need to laugh.” On this topic, Slackjaw recently announced their new Humor Writing Challenge. “Everyone who enters gets peer support and feedback from Slackjaw’s community of Medium writers,” shares Slackjaw Editor Alex Baia. It was wonderful to see the amount of support and collaboration in the last one — glad to see they are running it again.

March earnings payouts

By the 8th of each month (so in this case April 8), we initiate the payments for the prior month’s earnings. Please allow 3–7 business days to receive the March earnings payouts in your Stripe account. Based on member engagement from this period:

  • 64% of writers or publications who wrote at least one story for members earned money.
  • 6.9% of active writers earned over $100.
  • $17,126.40 was the most earned by a writer, and $5,099.90 was the most earned for a single story.

Learn more about earning money for your best writing with the Medium Partner Program.

Words to write by

This month’s writing inspo comes from Darcy Reeder in “To Be a Writer, Do I Have to Let in All the News and Social Media?” Reeder’s story captures this challenge we’re in now as writers. We want to stay on top of the news to inform what we share, and yet it’s immensely draining. We can stop paying attention, but then we’ll lose connection. There aren’t any solutions here. Amid stories that offer advice and solutions, sometimes there are none. But there is the connection, keeping us together.

Writers, when we’re doing our job well, turn pain into beauty, chaos into order, confusion into understanding.

For more inspiration and advice on writing, check out the stories in the Writing topic, and follow the Medium Writers Team. We’ve also included a set of tips for new writers here. Feel free to share this newsletter with friends who might be interested in writing.

Keep at it,

Kawandeep, Writer Advocate

This monthly newsletter for writers is from the Medium Writers Team. Learn more about how Medium supports great writers through the Medium Partner Program. If you’re in the Partner Program, see your dashboard here.


Creative Support During the Coronavirus was originally published in 3 min read on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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